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What’s in a name?

What’s popular and what’s not

Published: Monday, March 17, 2014 3:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 17, 2014 3:44 p.m. CDT

The baby is almost ready to enter the world, and the decision of what to name the new addition to the family is a tough one. Do you name the child after great-great-grandpa, or do you give him his own identity? Do you lovingly use your mother-in-law’s name, or are you thinking about a more popular name of a character you’ve seen on TV or at the movies?

Naming a baby can be tough, especially if the two parents (and often grandparents get in on the discussion) can’t agree. One thing for sure, the baby will live with your decision the rest of their life, so you’ll want to think long and hard about the name you give your new bundle of joy.

While experts in the naming field have a variety of theories about what kind of name should be suit a child for the future, the most popular names for boys and girls have remained similar throughout the years.

At St. Margaret’s Birthing Unit in Spring Valley, Heather Knoblauch, perinatal coordinator, glanced through the names given to new babies at St. Margaret’s Health in Spring Valley, and what she found was many of the names are quite unusual. Several were “made-up” names — titles that hadn’t been heard before or more common names that were spelled in an unusual manner. While there were a few more common names in the book, Knoblauch said the biggest trend she could see was that many of the names began with an “A” or and “E.” As she read down the list of first names, each one was different — only a few were alike.

At, the experts there said parents should start thinking about their newborn’s name early in the pregnancy. They caution soon-to-be parents there are many considerations like “appeasing relatives, avoiding embarrassing initials or nicknames, and steering clear of monikers associated with bad memories.” These are some of the main points to keep in mind:

• “Uniqueness. An unusual name has the advantage of making the bearer stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, a name no one has heard of and few can pronounce can bring attention a child would rather avoid. One way of striking a balance is to choose a familiar first name if the child’s last name is unusual, and vice versa.”

• “Relatives and friends. Many parents choose to name their babies after a grandparent, other relative or close friend. Take ideas graciously, but don’t tell anyone what you and your partner have decided until after the baby is born — when it’s too late to give in to any subtle hints. And never let anyone pressure you into a name you don’t like.”

• “Ancestry and heritage. Your child’s heritage is an essential part of who she/he is, and you may want their name to reflect that. Your religious preference may steer you toward a certain category of names. Or perhaps your family has a tradition of naming first-born sons after their fathers. If you love a name but it doesn’t meet your family’s traditional requirements, consider using it as a middle name.”

• “Initials and nicknames. People, especially kids, can be cruel when it comes to nicknames, so try to anticipate any potentially embarrassing ones.”

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Top 25 most popular boys names in Illinois 1. Alexander 2. Daniel 3. Jacob 4. Michael 5. Anthony 6. Ethan 7. Joshua 8. William 9. Nathan 10. Aiden 11. David 12. Matthew 13. Jayden 14. Christopher 15. Noah 16. Joseph 17. Benjamin 18. Ryan 19. Logan 20. Andrew 21. Tyler 22. James 23. Angel 24. John 25. Jack

Top 25 most popular girls names in Illinois 1. Isabella 2. Olivia 3. Sophia 4. Emma 5. Emily 6. Ava 7. Abigail 8. Mia 9. Madison 10. Ella 11. Addison 12. Elizabeth 13. Samantha 14. Natalie 15. Chloe 16. Grace 17. Alexis 18. Alyssa 19. Leah 20. Lily 21. Anna 22. Sofia 23. Ashley 24. Evelyn 25 Taylor

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